On the Knavesmire the famous Knavesmire a lion sleeps tonight!
No not that lion of which the song that has had many covers with the Tight Fit version being one of the more popular ones but the Qatar Racing owned Roaring Lion who has come to the top of the tree in the 3yo Colt division as he became the horse who finally broke John Gosden’s maiden tag in one of the most prestigious,famous and now officially the best 1m2f race in Europe by running away with the 2018 Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes with the sort of style and grace that one would expect from a top class middle distance performer.
Eight went to post in a race that finally brought together the best of the 3yo generation and the older mob and after a summer of ducking and diving from both of them the generations finally came too under the muggy grey York skies on the opening day of this ever popular northern flat festival.
They went a decent clip from the moment the starter pressed the green button and as expected the field came down the stands’ side in line for home, Roaring Lion who was on the inside going down the back had clear daylight with four furlongs to go and from then Oisin Murphy simply waited till the right moment and both jockey and horse ran clear by around four lengths from short priced favourite Poets Word who under pressure down the straight but stayed on for second over what is probably an inadequate trip for him now.
For many the real star of the race was the David Menuisier trained Thundering Blue who continued his love affair with this place by getting third spot at 50-1 with 2000 Guineas winner back in fourth.
Roaring Lion has come of age since the Derby by following up his win last month in the Eclipse, all eyes may probably be aimed at the Champion Stakes in October but a visit over the Irish Sea for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown which should suit him far more.
The day’s other two pattern races were first up the Group 3 Acome Stakes over 7f in which Phoenix Of Spain gave Lambourn trainer Charlie Hills a second success in the race as the grey landed what looked a reasonable looking contest as he came from last to first under Jamie Spencer finding a golden highway down the stands’ side just like in the opening sprint handicap and in the International to brush off the highly regarded Watan back in second place, at the moment he looks to be going the right way and could return to Yorkshire next month at Doncaster for the Champagne Stakes over 7f to continue his upward curve.
Classic Clues came in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur over 1m4f in which eight of the nine declared held an entry in the St Leger with the only one not in Cross Corner who misses out on a technical issue due to having no testicles!
In the end what looked a top notch renewal found its way to the Charlie Appleby yard with Old Persian under the steerage of James Doyle putting in a tough afternoon at the coalface as he just held off the staying on Cross Counter to put his St Leger credentials on the line, Kew Gardens back in third ran a very eye catching race and despite the O’Brien horses not quite being at the top just yet he could have a say in the final classic of the season just over three and a half weeks time.
Cross Counter is potentially heading down under to Australia for a go at the Melbourne Cup and the way he ran on in this race he could have a say in the result but obviously anything can happen between now and November.
It’s fair to say York showed why this meeting is always popular among racing fans and people of the north who along with the Grand National and St Leger meetings treasure it like its a priceless heirloom for which no amount of money could prize it away.
Star of the show for sure was Roaring Lion and he is certainly the one they all have to get past now in the 10f division.
Next up will be Sprint Cup Day at Haydock Park, till then goodbye.